The Black Cloister: A Novel by Melanie Dobson

The Black Cloister: A Novel
Melanie Dobson
Kregel Publications (2008)
ISBN 9780825424434
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (12/08)


Elise Friedman had many questions for years after her mother died, supposedly from a stroke.  (Elise was only eight-years-old at that time.) There just seemed to be too many secrets no one wanted to share with her.  Full of tenacity and vigor, Elise decided to venture to Germany to find out more about her mother, her past, and come to terms with the possibility the death wasn’t due to a stroke.

Upon her arrival she meets her mother’s closest friend, Addison, and arrogant Carson. Addison doesn’t disclose much information and Carson seems to constantly prevent Elise from moving forward in her search. Eventually, Elise is successful in finding the truth, predictable in a sense, yet interesting enough to make one stop and think about the reality of religious cults.

The story is slow to start during the set up of the characters and plot, although once moving forward the tale becomes a page turner.  Dobson is gifted in character development; to a point the characters feel alive. She has done much research of religious cults and brings the realism into the plot.

“The Black Cloister” by Melanie Dobson opens up the reader to understanding how religious cults prey upon the weaknesses of people.  This is a dramatic and remarkable story, one that is not only a good read but an educational one.

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